Chatham-Kent Civic Centre. January 18, 2017. (Photo by Natalia Vega)

East Kent Resident Jumps In Mayoral Race

A landscaper from East Kent is proposing tax cuts as he jumps into the race to become Chatham-Kent’s mayor.

Harold Atkinson filed his nomination papers on Tuesday. He says the municipality is “falling apart” in terms of population, jobs, and infrastructure. To solve some of the issues, Atkinson is proposing tax cuts if elected.

“There would be a large tax cut this first budget, mostly in industrial, partly in commercial and partly in residential and farm. The second year the tax cut would be the same for everybody, it would be 10%. The third year, 10%,” he says. “We’re going to lose some of our positions from city hall, obviously. I would [also] like to go back to OPP instead of the Chatham-Kent Police Services.”

Atkinson says he plans on releasing a more in-depth plan near the Labour Day holiday. He says a tax cut, along with better infrastructure and more job opportunities would bring people back to Chatham-Kent.

“If we can get some plants back [to Ridgetown] and create some jobs here, it will fix our school problem too,” he says. “When I went to high school in Ridgetown back in the 70’s, we had 600 students, now they’re down to 260. If we could get a couple plants to come to different areas we’ll have more students because usually, people working in plants are at that child-bearing age.”

There are now five people running in the mayoral race. Atkinson is up against Mayor Randy Hope, Councillor Darrin Canniff, local advocate Alysson Storey, and local resident Robert Salvatore Powers. Atkinson says what sets him apart from the other candidates is his sensibility.

“I’m more reasonable than the rest of them I think,” says Atkinson. “I have a plan for how we can get ourselves out of this situation we’re in.

“We’re in decline, we’ve been in decline for 20 years and everyone knows it. Well, I think I can do a little better.”

Atkinson is from Morpeth and says he has lived in the community all his life. He has worked as a landscaper for about 30 years.